Alicia Wilson-Ahlstrom


Director, Field Research

Alicia Wilson-Ahlstrom has spent nearly two decades supporting and strengthening the community partnerships and policy bodies that provide essential supports to children, youth and families. Her career has been dedicated to removing the roadblocks to young people’s success. Alicia began her career in neighborhoods in Detroit and Grand Rapids, working side by side with community programs seeking to provide safe and engaging educational opportunities for youth. Alicia’s work has centered on a range of efforts within policy, practice, and research settings aimed at ensuring that a young person’s zip code does not determine their destiny, that an effective education is accessible to all students, and that communities themselves have the capacity and resources to act on evidence to improve social opportunity for all.

As director of field research at the Forum for Youth Investment, Alicia oversees national and regional programmatic and policy initiatives focused on improving access, coordination and quality of youth-serving systems. In that role, she advises both community partnerships and foundations in targeted areas of strategy and program development focused on youth and education initiatives.

Alicia’s portfolio includes diverse research and writing projects related to afterschool policy development, educational equity, services for disconnected youth, youth program quality, research-practice partnerships, and financing for children’s programs. She is author of the seminal paper, Funding Brighter Futures, used to launch the Forum’s Children’s Funding Project, a national initiative to help cities and counties develop and leverage locally-generated, dedicated tax revenue for children’s programs and services. She has authored or co-authored numerous papers, articles, blog posts and core web content in support of evidence-based practice and policy in the youth-serving sector.

Prior to joining the Forum in 2002, Alicia served as a program manager in the adolescent division of the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, where she managed regional youth worker and teacher training initiatives in the United States and the United Kingdom. Her work there centered on the early development of the Youth Program Quality Intervention and the Youth Work Methods Training, foundational assets for one of the most well-regarded, evidence-based tools for improving quality in the out-of-school time educational sector (now managed by the Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality).